Ghost in the Shell (2017) Parent Guide

A personal fight against crime.

Overall C

Major (Scarlett Johansson) is a human-cyborg hybrid and leader of an elite task force. She and her team are trying to stop an enemy who has intentions to destroy cyber technology. This movie is based on the Ghost in the Shell franchise.

Release date March 31, 2017

Violence D+
Sexual Content B+
Profanity C
Substance Use C

Why is Ghost in the Shell (2017) rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Ghost in the Shell (2017) PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images.

Run Time: 120 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Ghost In The Shell is a live-action (although a lot of the movie is bathed in CGI effects) retelling of a 1995 Japanese anime that every Ghost fan must see, or they will be out of the club. In my case, I’m so far out of the club, I don’t even know where the parking lot is. Instead I approach this film with the expectations of seeing a Blade Runner-esque story about a woman who can’t be killed.

Expectations met.

Scarlett Johansson plays The Major, a fully robotic female fighting machine with only one human characteristic: her brain. In the opening scene we learn about the Hanka Corporation, which is in the business of developing a robot that houses human wisdom inside a mechanically perfected body. The Major is their first such success, and a year after her “birth”, the fembot is assigned to be a member of the local police force in New Port City.

Her buddy cop is Batou (Pilou Asbaek), a guy who is still mostly human but has had various “enhancements”—a term tossed around in this society meaning you have had work done to replace malfunctioning human parts. The ham-fisted government, over which Hanka Corp has great sway, gives the duo plenty of opportunity to carry out raids. But when The Major comes into the realm of an elusive cyber-terrorist (Michael Pitt), she discovers there is more to her past than her single year of memories.

From this point the protagonist’s mission switches from a crime fighter to a personal quest to discover who she really is and what secrets are veiled inside her human mind.

Heavy on action and relatively light on new story ideas and surprises, this US PG-13 rated film trades sexual content and profanity in order to include more violent scenarios. The lack of sexual activity may seem surprising if you’ve seen the trailers that show Johansson taking on bad guys wearing what appears to be nothing at all. Her robot birthday suit, while form fitting, lacks any anatomical details making it not much different than if she were wearing ballet-style body tights. And, in case you’re wondering, it offers the functional ability of near invisibility for short periods.

More concerning for parents should be the many combat interactions that result in faces, limbs and other body parts being disintegrated and/or blasted away. What saves Ghost from a more restrictive rating is the clear majority of the destruction involves mechanical beings who are either repaired or traded in for replacements. They also don’t bleed. Yet, for young viewers, this won’t make the carnage any less bothersome. You will also hear a handful of mild and moderate profanities along with seeing a raised middle finger. A character smokes a cigarette on at least two occasions as well.

The takeaway warning here is no matter how advanced the technology, artificial intelligence requires a human component—in this case the biological brain within the robot that becomes the ghost in the shell. With major corporations feverishly working to bring AI (Artificial Intelligence) to reality on our highways and in many other aspects of our lives, Ghost in the Shell opens an opportunity for after-movie discussions. However, parents may want to seek other less violent options (Tron, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Bicentennial Man) that preach a similar concern.

Directed by Rupert Sanders. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Michael Wincott, Michael Pitt. Running time: 120 minutes. Theatrical release March 31, 2017. Updated

Ghost in the Shell (2017)
Rating & Content Info

Why is Ghost in the Shell (2017) rated PG-13? Ghost in the Shell (2017) is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images.

Violence: Many scenes involve guns and other ballistic and futuristic weapons of force. Countless characters, some human, some robotic and some a combination of the two, are shot on and off screen. We see characters with limbs blown off or detached—the majority being mechanical parts that are later replaced. Two characters are blasted with fire, we later see one having skin replaced while the other has eye transplants. Some scenes feature hand-to-hand combat between characters with super-human strength. A robotic face has eyes ripped out, and we see the empty sockets. A character allows his/her life to be taken in the hopes of saving others.

Sexual Content: The female protagonist has a robotic body and is frequently seen without clothing, however her “body” appears as a female form wrapped in a white plastic material similar to a person wearing a form-fitting dance costume where no anatomical details are shown. Street scenes briefly show women who appear to be prostitutes—a female character meets with one of these women and we later see them talking.

Profanity: Infrequent use of scatological slang and vulgar expressions. A raised middle finger is seen.

Alcohol / Drug Use: A character is seen smoking a cigarette on at least two occasions. Characters drink alcohol.

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More parents' guide for Ghost in the Shell (2017) after the break...

Ghost in the Shell (2017) Parents' Guide

This movie discusses the concept of “soul”. Do you think you have a soul? Is it confined to any one part of your body, such as your brain? If your body was destroyed would you want to try having your brain inserted into a robotic body?

Artificial Intelligence is being marketed as a future solution for many problematic situations. Do you think it will ever be possible for technological tools to make “perfect” decisions? As an imperfect human, would you want to live in a world of perfect decision making robots? Have you ever benefitted from an imperfect decision you or someone else has made?

News About "Ghost in the Shell (2017)"

From the Studio:
Based on the internationally-acclaimed sci-fi property, “GHOST IN THE SHELL” follows the Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology.
Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures

Learn more about the Ghost in the Shell franchise, which is based on the a manga series written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow.

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Ghost in the Shell (2017) movie is July 25, 2017. Here are some details…

Ghost in the Shell releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Cop) on July 25, 2017. Extras include:
- Hard-Wired Humanity: Making Ghost in the Shell
- Section 9: Cyber Defenders
- Man & Machine: The Ghost Philosophy

Related home video titles:

Another cyborg law enforcer is featured in Robocop (2014). And an officer finds himself fighting against artificial intelligence in I, Robot.